Coming back to middle school after the pandemic lockdown was scary for me. I worried about not feeling accepted in my school community.

I’m a 14-year-old nonbinary Black artist. I use they/she pronouns, and I don’t have any specific sexual orientation, so I identify as queer.

As a result, I worry about laws being proposed and passed around the country to restrict LGBTQ+ people like me.

In Florida, they passed the so-called Don’t Say Gay law in March, which prohibits teachers from discussing sexual orientation with young students. Preventing discussion will prevent self-expression and will cause more identity issues. Queer students are in danger and in fear.

This law and similar legislation are a threat to students like me, because we rely on safe spaces in schools to develop personally and academically. LGBTQ+ clubs in schools led by caring teachers can provide a sense of community and nurturing spaces for queer students to safely explore their identities.

Imagine growing up feeling like you were born in the wrong body, but no one helped you understand that feeling? When a person feels like something is out of place, they do something to make it better. But if students don’t have the tools to make it better themselves, they can be negatively impacted by their choices and the choices of others.

At my middle school, the READI (Rainbow Education Alliance for Diverse Individuals) club is a space for supporters and members of the LGBTQ+ community to learn more about themselves and others and also connect with our local community through service.

Read the full article about LGBTQIA spaces in schools by Makayla Brown at The Hechinger Report.